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f4C                                                VERDICT   OX  1XDIA
the road parsed au endless stream of the rumbling bullock-carts
which form the eternal background of the Indian pageant. The
coconut palms were noisy with big black crows and the burning
skies echoed with the perpetual * ghee-wee3 of kites* At the
entrance gate stood an attendant in a mauve and white pugree,
lost in dreams, under a tangled mass of morning glory.
Then I turned round, and saw a gaunt building of steel and
concrete, painted in staring letters 'Stage Number Four. No
Smoking,' The impact of East and West was startling.
In the corner of the yard was a very beautiful tree, with a
gnarled trunk the colour of old ivory, and thickly-clustering glossy
leaves that Cezanne would have loved, leaves that seemed to drip
green paint into the shadows below. My friend pointed to it.
Tni going to paint that tree,5 he said.
'You'd better hurry up. The director said they were enlarging
the studios, and they'll be cutting it down/
'They'll never cut that tree down. Its a pipal, and a pipal is
sacred ; if they cut it down they might as well blow up the studio ;
nobody would work here any more.3
So this was the pipal—the same tree which Ramah had climbed-
when he hurt his leg! Well, it was certainly a lovely thing.
And if India has to be cluttered up with sacred objects it is just as
well that some of those objects should be trees ; it is a pity that
there are not a few sacred trees in England. Nevertheless, when
you come to know India better, you begin to feel that at times
the sacredness of the pipal is somewhat overdone* It spreads it
shade far and wide, in the mountains and the valleys and the
cities of the plains, and sometimes it spreads it in the most awk-
ward places. Bang in the middle of narrow streets ; just over the
one spot where a builder wants to put a septic tank ; right outside
the windows of a room where it is vital to have light. To make a
very bad pun, local Government in India is largely government
of the pipal, by the pipal, for the pipal.
We walked over and stood in the shade of the tree.    It was cool
and pleasant here, and it seemed a good place to collect a few
statistics from my friend, who was one of the most knowledgeable .
men in the business.
4 How big is the film industry in India ?'